eco Alliance on the German Coalition Agreement: Sustainable Digital Infrastructures Require Renewable Energies

For the first time in Germany, we have a coalition agreement which features a close link between the topics of digitalisation and sustainability, with this agreement presented by the SPD, Bündnis 90/The Greens and the FDP on Wednesday, 24 November 2021. The Alliance for the Strengthening of Digital Infrastructures in Germany, founded under the umbrella of eco – Association of the Internet Industry, resolutely welcomes this and confirms that these two issues must be joined at the hip, because digital infrastructures as well as digital technologies and services offer great potential for greater sustainability and the achievement of climate goals.

While the companies consider bringing forward the coal phase-out to 2030 as ambitious, they view the required conversion to renewable energy supply as being absolutely essential. For the industry – and, in particular, data centres – this will constructively flank the challenges associated with the target for data centre carbon neutrality from 2027 onwards. In this context, the planned cessation of the Renewable Energy Law (EEG) levy from 2023 is seen as helpful.

“The members of the Alliance for the Strengthening of Digital Infrastructures in Germany, founded under the umbrella of eco – Association of the Internet Industry, have set themselves the goal of doing their part to achieve the German and European climate targets. And the eco-balance of digitalisation is already positive today; in numerous economic sectors, net CO2 is saved through digital technologies and applications,” says Dr Béla Waldhauser, Spokesperson for the Alliance.

According to Greenpeace, just one day of working from home per week could, for example, save 1.6 million tons of CO2 per year in Germany – thanks to digital technologies.

“As an operator of digital infrastructures, we’re proud that we have advanced digitalisation in an increasingly energy-efficient manner in recent years, and that we’ve also taken the first steps in waste heat utilization, together with municipalities and public utilities,” Waldhauser continues.

“We would like to see faster action here in terms of cooperation and planning procedures, but, above all, Germany needs to move much more quickly on climate change in Germany. Data centre operators are not CO2 emitters per se, but energy consumers, and in terms of energy mix, what Germany offers us is open to criticism, given that it is based on fossil fuels. Therefore, it is necessary to more rapidly provide renewable energies in sufficient quantities.

“With our ongoing measures to improve energy efficiency, and if we are provided with the required energy mix, we can make our contribution to achieving the ambitious climate protection targets set by the coalition parties. In short: In order to achieve the ambitious goals of this coalition agreement in terms of climate neutrality for data centres, the industry and politics must work closely together in a spirit of trust at the federal, state and local levels. We are poised to do so,” Waldhauser says.

Bela Waldhauser